Agile and Scrum project management: A selection of useful platforms
Jira Software, Basecamp 3, Trello and Assembla are four of the best-known project management tools on the market. With them, the members of a DevOps team can make lists of tasks, attach files, make comments and program alerts.
Many of the development teams in large companies and startups use Agile and Scrum methodologies to launch digital projects. The aim is to speed up the processes as much as possible, reach Minimum Viable Products as soon as possible and cut the end costs involved in software management and development: it can be a mobile app, a CRM system…
These working groups often use project management platforms to share prototypes, exchange opinions, set meetings, discuss incidents, etc. They are extremely useful tools.
Some of these platforms are Jira Software, Basecamp, Trello, Assembla, Asana, LeanKit and last but not least, Google Drive. In this case it is not exactly a project management tool, but its many features and its ability to share documents in the cloud make it a great collaborative work tool. They all more than fulfill all the key concepts of the Agile and Scrum principles. But what are exactly the Agile and Scrum methodologies that inspire this software?
Scrum is an agile and flexible software and digital project development methodology firmly based on teamwork. The aim is to spread out in deliveries or ‘sprints’ small end development components until a minimum viable product can be launched. It is quite an effective collaborative work method for controlling costs and time, and obtaining quick results in volatile environments with huge demands in fields such as innovation or strategy. Being flexible to achieve the goals set for return on investment (ROI). If the deliveries go on forever, costs prevent this ROI from being realized.
Most teams doing Scrum use these tools:
1. Jira Software
Jira has become one of the most widely used project managers on the market. It is a simple solution with a relatively small learning curve, but with the power needed to manage large software development projects. Jira offers notifications via email, the possibility of attaching documentation (UX prototypes, for example), filters and a search system based on natural language and is extensible and easy to integrate with nearly all systems or databases.
These are some of Jira's features:
- Scrum boards: The members of an Agile team can configure their own panels to keep track of the tasks that need to be performed, those underway or those that have already been completed. All these tasks can be associated with a delivery date and user profiles.
- Kanban boards: These enable an Agile team to always have an overview of the different sprints and the status of the tasks set on this board.
- Sprint reports: These display the list of tasks for each sprint. These reports are often used when a flashback is done in a scrum process, to check where and when errors have been made at the end of the process (usually delays that affected software quality) or in the process controls halfway through each sprint.
- Extensible tool thanks to a well-documented API in Java.
- Solution that can be integrated easily into other systems or platforms because it has been developed in HTML, which enables it to be displayed in browsers, RSS readers or Excel and sent by email.
2. Basecamp 3
Another popular Agile project manager in the Scrum community is Basecamp, a tool easy to use on both desktop and mobile devices. It already has a third version, Basecamp 3. The manager is divided into several sections with different features: backlog of tasks to perform; forum for exchanging opinions; document and file aggregator; a calendar and everything related to private messages and notifications.
What can a project manager do with Basecamp?
1. Backlog of pending tasks:
- Sort the tasks on lists. Expiry dates can be set for these tasks, and even execution intervals. The order of priority of these tasks can be changed on the fly.
- Ability to assign tasks to one or more persons per sprint.
- Possibility of adding notes, comments or files to each task.
- Two display modes: traditional or summary view.
2. Forum for exchanging ideas:
- Each idea and comment can be viewed by the other members of the team.
- Each topic has its own page, where all the comments or ideas related to a topic can be kept in an organized way. This is important because each personal opinion can be documented.
- Images can be attached ( mockups or prototypes) in each discussion thread in the forum, each associated with a topic or task.
3. Document aggregator:
- 'Drag & drop' function for adding files.
- File resorting with the same 'drag & drop' function.
- The members of the group can comment on each file separately. This is important for making proposals around strategy reports or usual design documentation for prototypes, for example.
- Simple integration with Google Docs.
- The aggregator makes it possible to document each file and the development of the changes from beginning to end. Great functionality.
Trello is the project manager most alike Jira and also more in line with what a typical Kanban board would be in Scrum methodology. The team members can generate columns to package work processes such as ideas or lists of tasks to be performed, tasks underway and tasks completed.
We always hear the same about Trello: it is not a manager with many resources, but it is simple and has everything needed to properly manage projects. Files can be uploaded from the desktop and it integrates with other collaborative work tools like Google Drive, Dropbox, Box and Microsoft OneDrive. Lists of tasks, tags, expiry and execution dates, and other items can be added.
With Trello, comments and attachments can be added for each of these tasks. It also offers the possibility of making comments on the tasks and on each document or file attached to the panel by each member of the team. It also offers a drop-down menu on the right side with the list of members of the Kanban board and also the details of the activity linked to the tasks.
Assembla is also a typical Kanban board, with vertical columns where each member can interact with ideas, tasks to be performed, tasks underway and tasks completed, attach all kinds of files and make comments online. It offers the possibility of receiving alerts linked to the tasks and notifying any detail or request by email to the members of the Agile team.
Assembla has a REST API for developers that makes it easy to integrate with external applications, based on an OAuth 2 authentication protocol. This project manager can be integrated with many platforms and services, including Google Apps and the entire collaborative work framework in the cloud, Google Drive, or with the platform for collaborative and open source development, GitHub. Here is the full list.
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